By Maximillian C. Burgos
The football team lost its third straight road game against Montclair State University this past weekend 28-0. The Lions fell to 0-5 as a result.
Montclair State entered the game with an undefeated record, and looked to stay perfect on the season. Montclair State’s defense seemed insurmountable in the first half, as the Lions only totaled 10 yards of total offense. The Lions didn’t record their first first-down until the third quarter.
Both teams had offensive struggles in the first half, as each team took turns punting the ball to each other. Out of the 14 total possessions in the first half by both teams, 10 of them ended with a punt, but Montclair did just enough to score 21 unanswered points in the half.
Montclair State made the game a 28-0 affair when it punched in the fourth touchdown late in the third quarter on a 10-play 83-yard drive that killed six minutes and 20 seconds of valuable time on the clock.
The Lions responded by having their best drive of the game, led by freshman quarterback Dave Jachera and junior running back Connor Owen. The Lions managed to get into Montclair State’s red zone after a 10-yard rush by Jachera, setting up first-and-goal for the Lions. On the next play, Montclair State halted the Lions’ drive and stripped the ball away from Owen to preserve the shutout.
The Lions played hard until the end. On the last play of the game, the team drove 66 yards on 10 plays and managed to get back into the red zone. After a few passes to the end zone that fell incomplete, it was too little too late.
There were a few bright spots for the Lions. Freshman running back Mark Pacini won his second Offensive Rookie of the Week award by the New Jersey Athletic Conference. He averaged 4.1 yards per carry for 29 yards on seven attempts for the Lions. Pacini ranks 12th in rushing within the conference. With this award, the football team has now earned six NJAC Offensive Rookie of the Week awards.
On defense, freshman linebacker Sal Tardogno led the Lions with eight tackles. Sophomore linebacker Gavin Liepe totaled four tackles with two for losses.
Junior punter Zach Warcola continues to be the national leader in punting, averaging 39.5 yards on eight punts, two of which were for 50-plus yards and three landed inside the 20.
The Lions finally return home after a stretch of away games on Oct. 13 to play NJAC opponent Rowan University for a 6 p.m. start.